In a recent case in front of the Maryland Court of Appeals, the court held that testimony from witnesses that the driver of the car causing the accident fled the scene and then returned a short time later laughing before he then left again, was inadmissible in a claim for damages against that driver.
In the case Alban v. Fiels, the Albans were an elderly couple who were hit while driving in their truck by Mr. Fiels. The Albans’ vehicle sustained more damages than Fiels, and they were immobilized. In fact, Mrs. Alban was stuck in the car until firefighters came to extricate her.
Mr. Fiels fled the scene but did so down a road that had no outlet. Knowing that the road the driver fled down had no outlet, a nearby witness waited for the driver to return. When he did, the witness noticed that the driver slowed down and then sped off, laughing.
At trial, the Albans wanted to bring in the testimony from the two witnesses who saw Mr. Fiels return to the scene, slow down, and the speed away while laughing. However, the trial court prohibited the Albans from introducing the evidence, holding that it was not relevant to the jury’s ultimate inquiry as to the damages Mrs. Alban suffered.
After receiving a total of $10,000 in non-economic damages, the Albans sought a new trial based on the trial court’s failure to admit the testimony of the witnesses. The appellate court, however, affirmed the lower court’s ruling.
The appellate court held that, because Mrs. Alban’s claim was for emotional distress, rather than a physical injury, the evidence would only be admissible if it was evidence of an independent tort. In Maryland, there is no independent tort for the Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress. Such conduct only creates a claim as an element of damages.
Because the conduct of Mr. Fiels, while reprehensible, did not meet the elements of a separate tort, the evidence was not admissible. Thus, the court determined that the trial court’s decision to keep out the evidence was a sound one, and it reaffirmed the lower court.
Have You Been Involved in a Maryland Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been involved in a serious Maryland accident, you should speak with a dedicated Maryland accident attorney about your case as soon as possible. Depending on the situation, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for your medical expenses and lost wages, as well as for any pain and suffering you sustained as a result of the accident. The Maryland personal injury law firm of Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers has years of experience litigating on behalf of injured Marylanders and knows what it takes to bring a winning case. Click here, or call 410-654-3600 today to schedule a free initial consultation with a dedicated Maryland accident attorney.
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